Located in a two-room-wide, shotgun-style house on the border of the French Quarter and Treme districts, this is a must-see for an understanding of some of the deeper underpinnings of the Mardi Gras and New Orleans funeral traditions.
On one side is a room filled with the incredible handwork that goes into making the elaborate, 3-dimensional "Indian" costumes. Far from being a misappropriation of indigenous culture, these crewes pay tribute to their adopted Indian tribes with fantastic beaded costumes. The detail the tour provides about what goes into making these suits reveals a great deal about the depth of the African-American and Native American cultural links here.
The other side is an explanatory set of displays showing the meaning and art behind and surrounding the New Orleans jazz funeral traditions. You learn about "second line" dancing and see photos and artifacts detailing the rich history and meaning, dating back to African origins, of this complex ritual surrounding death and the living who go on afterward.
The narrow hallway between the two sides is hung with all sorts of photos, documents, and art that will keep you busy if the other rooms are momentarily too full to enter. Definitely worth the price of admission!
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